The DEAF Home is a net-zero home that accommodates the everyday needs of Deaf individuals and others who reside in the home. The acronym DEAF represents Deaf Equality, Accessible Future and is designed to achieve several goals; with the primary objective being to sustainably, creatively, and efficiently address the shortage of accessible housing for the Deaf community.

The intended occupant of the home is a Deaf college student, and the home is designed to accommodate up to three people, whether they are Deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing. The occupant is preferably a student pursuing a degree at Missouri S&T, as the intended age range is 18-26 years old. The home features a fenced backyard, in the event that any or all of the occupants own a service animal. In addition to ADA requirements, the home features an array of smart technology, including a visual alert system that would alert the occupant to an event that they were previously unaware of. Examples of these alerts include someone ringing the doorbell, a kitchen timer going off, or an extreme weather event. The design of the floor plan and the included technologies enable the occupants to live an independent and efficient life.

Engineered Systems

The DEAF Home’s HVAC system is as efficient as possible. It employs a geothermal heat pump accompanied by an energy recovery ventilator (ERV). Geothermal systems are significantly more efficient than conventional air conditioning systems and than air source heat pumps. Geothermal heat pumps especially have an advantage over air source heat pumps as the temperatures deviate from around 55 °F. This means that geothermal heat pumps are much more efficient during the periods where heating and cooling are needed the most. The energy models show that, without photovoltaics, an air source heat pump would cost $998 over the course of one year while the designed geothermal system with the Bosch Greensource CDi Series SM revC SM024-1VTC would only cost $662. The RenewAire EV Premium S ERV then helps recover heat and moisture from the exhaust air to help further reduce heating and cooling load while satisfying indoor air quality and ventilation requirements. 

The plumbing system ensures quick and efficient hot water delivery to all plumbing fixtures. The home will use a system of four tankless Rheem Performance RTEX-13 water heaters. There is one water heater for each of the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the washing machine. The RTEX-13 is a very efficient water heater which can deliver 2.06 gallons per minute (GPM) for an inlet temperature of 57 °F to 62 °F using only one 13 kW heating element. This covers the range of expected inlet temperatures and is more than enough for the hot water demand since the home uses low flow fixtures that will be discussed later in this section. Using tankless water heaters has two major advantages over using a tank or even a heat pump water heater. First, there is a very short path to all hot water fixtures. The longest path in the DEAF home is under 20 ft, including vertical distances, which is significantly less than the approximately 95 ft that would be required for a tank water heater. The hot water piping will also be wrapped in R-3.2 pipe insulation to further reduce heat loss in the hot water delivery process. Second, the tankless water heater does not need to keep water hot in a tank. This means that the heating element is only powered on when there is hot water demand. This also allows the occupant to set the temperature lower: water needs to be hotter in a tank to prevent bacterial growth in the stagnant water. 

Along with being ADA compliant, all bathroom plumbing fixtures will be WaterSense labeled, and the kitchen sink will have a low flow rate to aid in water conservation and lower loads on the water heater. In the bathrooms, the faucets and showerheads will have flow rates of 1.2 GPM and 1.75 GPM, respectively, and the toilets will use 0.8 GPF. While the WaterSense label is not given to kitchen faucets, a faucet with a low flow rate of 1.5 GPM was chosen. Additionally the dishwasher and clothes washers are equipped with load sensing technology, which lowers their overall water consumption as well. A WaterSense irrigation control will be employed to prevent overwatering of the yard. The yard irrigation system will be separate from the home plumbing system to make sure the home plumbing system does not encounter loads higher than which the pipes are capable of handling. The specific controller that will be used is the Orbit 4 Zone B-hyve. This unit regulates watering by keeping track of local weather conditions. In other words, it will determine that there is no need to water the yard one day if there is rain in the forecast for the next day.